Not only is today my first post of 2020, but it’s also the fourth installment of my “Spotlight On…” series. Once again, if you have any recommendations of authors you’d like me to focus on, please leave a comment!
I have previously written about Mary Shelley, George Orwell and, last month, Charles Dickens.
This time I’m going to put the spotlight on Jane Austen!
As always, the blog post will be divided into 6 different parts.
1. A little bit about their life
2. Their works I have read
3. Their works I am yet to read
4. Great film/TV adaptations based on their works
6. An author biography recommendation
So without further ado…
A Little Bit About Their Life4
Jane Austen was born the seventh of eight children of Cassandra and George Austen on 16th December 1775 in Hampshire, England. Her father was a clergyman, serving as the Oxford-educated rector for a nearby Anglican parish. They were a very close-knit family and her presents stressed the improtance of learning and creative thinking – and one day, herself, her father and her sister Cassandra, would all collaborate together on a novel.
Jane and Cassandra, her sister, were sent away to boarding schools where they both caught typhus. Jane nearly died from the illness. After their formal education was cut short due to financial issues, they both returned home to learn in their father’s extensive library.
Jane Austen began to write in her teenage years and in 1790’s bound in her own notebooks, she began to write what would become Love and Friendship – a parody of romantic fiction depicted as a series of love letters. Already she was showing signs of what would come to characterise her work. The next year she wrote The History of England…, a 34-page parody of historical writing that included illustrations drawn by Cassandra. These notebooks, encompassing the novels as well as short stories, poems and plays, are now referred to as Austen’s Juvenilia.
Austen’s day-to-day life was spent helping to run the family home, playing piano, attending church and socialising with neighbours. She became an accomplished dancer. She wrote Lady Susan and began work on a book then called Elinor and Marianne which would eventually become to be known as Sense and Sensibility.
In 1801, Jane moved to Bath with her father, mother and Cassandra. Her father died in 1805 and the family were thrust into financial struggles. The three women spent their life skipping from house to house of their relatives before they were finally able to settle at her brother’s (Edward Austen’s) cottage in Chawton.
Jane’s brother, Henry Austen, helped her to negotiate with a publisher and in 1811 her first book, Sense and Sensibility, was published. Her next novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which she described as her “own darling child” received highly favourable reviews. ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in 1814, then ‘Emma’ in 1816. ‘Emma’ was dedicated to the prince regent, an admirer of her work. All of her works were published anonymously.
In 1816, at the age of 41, Jane Austen became very ill. People know think she was ill with Addison’s disease (an endocrine disorder). She continued to make efforts to write, writing a novel called The Brothers that would be published posthumously as Sanditon. Another novel, Persuasion, would also be published posthumously. At some point, Austen’s condition deteriorated to such a degree that she ceased writing. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, Hampshire, England.
While Austen received some accolades for her works while still alive, with her first three novels garnering critical attention and increasing financial reward, it was not until after her death that her brother Henry revealed to the public that she was an author.
Today, she is considered one of the greatest writers in English history (and one of my favourite’s too!)
Their Works I Have Read/Their Works I Am Yet To Read
I can proudly say that I have read all of Jane Austen’s works. You can find a blog post on my favourites here.
I would happily re-read her books for years to come – that’s how much I love them!
Great Film and TV Adaptations
Wow, where do I begin. The world is full of fantastic film and TV adaptations of Austen’s work – with many more in the pipeline! Who else is excited for Emma to be released, starring Anya-Taylor Joy as Emma Woodhouse.
Some of my favourites include:
Sanditon (2019) – TV series
Pride and Prejudice (2005) – film
Pride and Prejudice (1995) – TV series
As I say, there are so many that I’ve yet to watch and so many that I love. What are your favourite Austen adaptations?
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (perhaps the most famous first-line in literature!)
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
“but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”
“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
A Biography Recommendation
If you would like to read more about Jane Austen’s life and her wonderful books, I would recommend reading Jane Austen At Home: A Biography by the amazing Lucy Worsley, as well as Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin.
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë xx